I’ve spent the past week with my new MacBook, and I’ve had enough time to form a solid opinion. First though, I should go over the reasons that I chose this model over others. There were a few criteria that I was looking for in a replacement for my Chromebook. First, I wanted something in the 11″ to 12″ range. I had an opportunity to use a 13″ MacBook Air for a bit, and it was just a bit too big for how I like to use it.
Second, I wanted something that could run Adobe Lightroom. One of the main purposes in having a laptop is to be able to do some basic photo processing when I’m traveling. I often like to bring my DSLR out on trips, and getting the RAW photos off of the camera and onto Chromebook has been quite putzy. I’ve tried a bunch of different apps, and some have worked better than others, yet none of them work as well as Adobe Lightroom. That fact left me with choosing between a Windows laptop and Mac.
I have a lot invested in the Mac eco-system, so that wasn’t that difficult of a choice for me, but then I was left with which model to get. In the 11″ and 12″ range there are two choices, the MacBook Air, and the MacBook. The MacBook Air is a bit older, but has a slightly beefier processor and many more ports. The MacBook has a Retina display, and is even lighter and thinner. I spent a few visits at the Apple Store comparing both models, and decided that the MacBook was the way to go.
One of my biggest reasons was the Retina display. It is by far one of the best looking displays I’ve ever used, laptop or desktop. It’s a truly stunning display, with rich colors, and insane resolution. For doing photo editing it more than meets the need. This display pumps the price up a little, but frankly, after comparing them side-by-side, it was no-contest when it came to screens.
Many people have complained about the lack of multiple ports on the MacBook. I did invest in one of the Apple HDMI adapters right away, which comes with HMDI, USB, and USB-C connectors on it. That should cover just about everything I’d need when traveling. I also have a tiny hub I can throw into my bag for extreme cases where I need multiple devices plugged in at the same time. Frankly, the ability to charge my laptop off of a USB hub, or even a USB battery pack, is a trade-off I’m willing to accept.
The other issue that many people have raised with the MacBook is the keyboard. It is a very low travel keyboard that, honestly, feels weird the first time you type on it. On one of my visits to the Apple Store I spend some time just transcribing a Wikipedia article into a textbox so that I could get a solid feel for how they keyboard felt. The strangest thing happened; the more I typed on the keyboard, the more I fell in love with it. I had originally resigned myself to the idea that the keyboard would be a compromise for me with this machine, but it’s turned into one of my favorite features. I LOVE typing on it. It has just a slight bit of travel, but it’s more than enough to make you feel that you hit the keys, but it also is small enough that you can move your fingers over the keyboard with much less up and down movement. I feel like I can type faster on this keyboard, and it feels amazing.
The one downside to smaller laptops is the lack of CPU power, and it’s obvious that the MacBook won’t be winning any speed contests. However, when I loaded up a couple dozen photos into Lightroom and started making adjustments, I didn’t feel like I was hampered at all by the smaller CPU. All of my actions in Lightroom worked quickly, and I never found myself waiting around for things to complete. Partly, I’m sure this is due to having a full 8GB of memory, as well as onboard flash based storage. This helped the CPU keep up with what I threw at it, and left me very satisfied with performance. It also helped that I get all-day battery life out of it.
Overall, I am VERY happy with my selection. I’ve found myself using this laptop on a daily basis instead of parking myself at my larger iMac. It meets all my needs, has an amazing screen, and a keyboard that I’ve fallen in love with. I can see myself using this machine for a long time and being very happy with it.